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Posts Tagged ‘Downton Abbey’

What a glorious morning in the Blue Ridge. I’ve been sitting out on the deck with Ms Bean watching golden leaves drift by and listening to the rustle of oak trees in the wind. Soon I will have to bring the plants in from the porch, but for now, this is my season. Warm, sunny days and cool nights, Fall in Virginia is at its most elegant. Only the recurring theme of rape brings my autumn rhapsody to an end, and sends me upstairs to write.

Maybe it’s because we were sailing the Danube when a Stanford swimmer was on trial for raping an unconscious girl behind a dumpster, or maybe it’s just because I’ve been too politically plugged in to think about anything else, but today’s news caught my attention. Brock Turner, the rapist/swimmer, has been released from jail and is registering himself as a sex offender in Ohio. There are a few things about this case I find abhorrent.

First, in the state of California, if you rape an unconscious girl, they assume she has given her consent because she can’t say, “No.” Should I say that again? There are a few states that have crafted laws like this, what shall we call it, the “I Can’t Say No” clause? So, this gentleman was charged with a “sexual assault,” not “rape.” Still, this is how the FBI describes rape – “…penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Nothing about the ability to talk, in fact we know some women are so terrified they cannot utter a word. In this case, the woman was “lucky” two men saw her being raped, and chased down the predator. Because if that had not happened, this would have just been another post-party night on campus. The unnamed young victim read a lengthy letter to Turner at sentencing, this is a small part:

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up.

Three months in jail, a slap on the wrist. Boys will be boys will be sex offenders for life.

Let’s leap across the country to New Hampshire, to another white, privileged incidence of rape that has shocked suburbia. This week the victim of last year’s St Paul’s prep rape case went public. A very brave Chessy Prout, who is only 17 now, was a 15 year old Freshman at the prestigious school when she became a victim of something called the “Senior Salute,” where upperclassmen try to hook up with the new students. Owen Labrie, a 20 year old who looks like a student at Hogwarts, was sentenced to one year in prison after he was found on a train violating his bail. Poor boy, he was only trying to visit his girlfriend at Harvard. http://www.today.com/news/chessy-prout-st-paul-s-school-assault-survivor-sheds-anonymity-t102326

And skipping back a century, if you’ve been following any of Downton’s marathon episodes over Labor Day weekend, you may have been reminded of the lady’s maid, Anna, who was raped downstairs during a concert upstairs. It happened in the second episode of Season Four, and I happened to watch a bit while Bob was working. How could I forget the intrigue of the rapist’s untimely death, the aftermath of arrests at the castle? Who did push the rapist off a train platform to a very Anna Karenina end? Was it Anna, or her husband Mr Bates?

Rape happened in the Bible, and lest you think we’ve figured it out, it wasn’t until 1998 when the state of Mississippi struck down its law that a rape could only be proved if a woman was “pure.” And let’s all thank “King Edward I of England (who) was a forward-thinking chap. He enacted the landmark Statutes of Westminster at the end of the 13th century. They redefined rape as a public wrong, not just a private property battle. The legislation also cut out the virgin distinction and made consent irrelevant for girls under 12…” http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/men-defining-rape-history

If you haven’t sat down to talk with your high school and college Freshmen, boys and girls, about these things, you had better plan some time over Parent’s Weekend. Tell them if a girl falls down, pick her up. This was the view from my kitchen last night. Apricot night skies and buttercream mornings. img_5153

 

 

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Although we may not be caught up with all the news that’s fit to print while four generations cavort in the Florida sunshine, we did manage to see the latest Downton. Some of us watched the Masterpiece special on TV, and some caught PBS online the next day. And just to be safe, Grandma Ada had her son at home in the ice and snow taping last Sunday’s program. Naturally we were all speculating on the birth control device Lady Mary sent poor Anna Bates,her Lady’s maid, out to fetch from the pharmacy. Remember we are now into the 1920s, and Flapper fashion and suffrage is de rigeur!

Still, the same week a period drama wrestles with pre-marital sex, in fact seems to condone Lady Mary’s bohemian idea that 1) women should take charge of their bodies and not leave this messy business to the man, and B) she get to know this guy Tony “in every way” before marriage without having to deal with an unwanted “epilogue,” Pope Francis chimes in with this: “Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits – but no,” he said, adding the Church promoted “responsible parenthood”. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/19/us-pope-airplane-idUSKBN0KS1WY20150119

The doctors in the room all speculated Lady Mary was using a diaphragm and whipped out their devices to google this idea! Indeed, cervical caps were used in the 20s and 30s but were very scarce in this country. And just in case you haven’t heard of our modern-day saint Margaret Sanger, she thought ; “…the best method of birth control was a doctor fitted device, either the cervical cap or a diaphragm. Sanger opened North America’s first birth control clinic in New York City in 1916. Sanger and her sister, Ethel Higgins Byrne, did the work themselves, assisted by a receptionist. Sanger claimed to have fitted 488 women with diaphragms in the 10 days before the police shut the down the clinic. Sanger claimed she could not find a doctor willing to work at the clinic.” http://www.case.edu/affil/skuyhistcontraception/online-2012/Cervical-Caps-Diaphragms.html

Enter the Dutch physician, Dr Rebecca Gomperts. She is truly an inspirational woman who travels the globe to educate, enlighten and skirt the regulations and restrictions on a woman’s right to choose her method of birth control. She started Women on Waves where she would induce medical abortions with the morning after pill, mifepristone and/or misoprostol in international waters. In countries where politics restrict access to reproductive health care she is viewed as a villain, for most women she is their savior. In 2006 she started Women on Web https://www.womenonweb.org in order to enlarge her vision and reach more poor and marginalized women.

Using Mifepristone and Misoprostol is no more complicated than using other medications. You will get clear instructions about how to use the drugs, what to expect, and when to go to a doctor. If you have questions about any step of the process, you can contact a helpline. A medical abortion does not need to take place in a hospital or first aid clinic.

http://www.salon.com/2015/01/06/the_political_landscape_is_not_ready_meet_the_woman_leading_a_d_i_y_abortion_revolution/

Of course today, in this country, we can purchase Plan B over the counter. Whether we call it responsible or planned parenthood, it’s good to know the Pope gets it, even if he has to backtrack to keep the Cardinals happy. And as for Lady Mary, she is more a vixen than a rabbit, don’t you agree?

Rebecca Gomperts, one foxy lady

Rebecca Gomperts, one foxy lady

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Did you happen to catch the Golden Globes? I watched it in a book-ended fashion; the beginning and the end were great, but OMGawd, they actually got a wireless (radio) on Downton Abbey! Probably just a passing fancy right?The goings on about Highclere Castle was the meaty second act to my night of Hollywood pomp, and I’m ashamed to say when I switched back to the Globes I didn’t even recognize Lady’s Maid Anna Bates! Joanne Froggatt (a Dickensian name no?) won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV miniseries, primarily for her performance in a storyline where she is raped and brutally attacked by a valet in transit. The scene happens downstairs during a concert in a Godfather-like, back and forth juxtaposition.

In light of UVA today, at the start of the Winter Term, reinstating its banned fraternity after that scathing Rolling Stone article about a brutal but hard to prove gang rape, I think Froggatt’s words are telling:

“I received a small number of letters from survivors of rape,” Froggatt said in her acceptance speech. “One woman summed up the thoughts of many by saying she wasn’t sure why she’d written but she just felt in some way she wanted to be heard. I’d like to say, I heard you and I hope saying this so publicly in some way means you feel the world hears you.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/golden-globes-2015-downton-abbey-star-joanne-froggatt-wins-for-role-in-rape-storyline-9971414.html

Cheers to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey! For their fairy tale feminist twist on Bill Cosby and Sleeping Beauty; and for introducing George Clooney by leading with all of his new wife’s stellar achievements as a human rights’ lawyer. Now we girls know what it takes to land an American Prince. So ladies, just to amp up your feminist hackles, I found this reading list on Tumblr. Some of these authors you’ve heard of before, and some may be new. But believe you me, you’ll thank me in 2016! It starts out with Poehler’s new book, “Yes, Please.”

http://www.bustle.com/articles/53474-15-feminist-books-to-read-in-2015-to-help-you-stay-passionate-all-year

Can’t wait to read Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.” Like…“You know those subtly sexist moments that either caused your head to explode or suddenly go numb? Solnit has had those too, and she offers insight on how to handle these situations in her collection of essays.” Like the guy who asks the woman on maternity leave after having twins with a toddler at home what she’s doing with all her free time! Crazy funny right?

Oh and the news out of China. They too love their period dramas on the Tellie, but their turn at a Chinese Downton has failed miserably and made their censors apoplectic. They’ve had to shorten the close-ups of the women because they were showing too much cleavage! Ah, the power of the decolletage!

A Kayan woman in Burma, photo courtesy of Jack Winberg

A Kayan woman in Burma, photo courtesy of Jack Winberg

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It was a chilly 3 degrees this morning in our neck of the woods. The wind has died down and there’s a peacefulness about this arctic/polar/vortex. Ms Bean sits at the kitchen door and looks outside resignedly. No hawks circling, no sounds of woodpeckers, just the gentle whoosh of gas fireplaces upstairs and down.

Speaking of a house divided by a staircase, let’s talk about the latest Downton Abbey episode. It was near midnight by the time I got home from our expedition to the Paramount Theatre on Sunday. On my way to Kay’s house (she was driving into town with 2 other friends), the woman directly in front of me hit a deer. The poor thing was just sitting wide-eyed in the middle of the road, while we waited for the police to put an end to its misery.

The incessant rain/fog coupled with such a morbid beginning made me wonder if venturing out so late at night would be worth it – but the season premiere of Downton, surrounded by so many other like-minded-Edwardian-loving women, proved otherwise. We feasted on a substantial array of English appetizers, swigged champagne, and thrilled to a lecture by Richard Will, Chair of the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia,.

‘The Music of Downton Abbey” and film scoring was on the docket before that hound’s white rump started wagging along to those famous opening notes. Will and two UVA students performed music of the 20s and 30s, explaining how American ragtime permeated Europe after the war. There was a tension between old and new, the Edwardian and the Modern age. Young women could be seen in a public restaurant unescorted, and all classes were mixing it up on the dance floor. The Jazz Age ushered in a staccato subtext to the romantic, sentimental music that dominated the turn of the century.

I’ll not ruin the plot for those of you without cable, but the new season is shaping up well. There is frisson between fathers and daughters, maids and lady’s maids, and one or two surprising losses. I for one, am still getting over the loss of Matthew, and have to remind myself that the actor is in fact alive and well and appearing on Broadway at the moment. Having just finished reading “Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey,” fact and fiction collide on a regular basis in my brain.

The only cure is take one of those Viking cruises and tour Highclere Castle for myself! Anyone else interested, maybe this Spring? http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/index.html

Today I’ll cozy up with Ms Bean and search for a Corgi rescue and a good Highclere tour. Stay warm everybody! In the words of Al Jolson:

“Come on along, Come on along, Let me take you by the hand.”

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Normally, I’m not a scaredy cat. However, once my vision was affected by West Nile, I pretty much stopped driving at night. Which is why I’ll be car-pooling with some friends to see the first episode of Downton Abbey at the Paramount Theatre on the Historic Downtown Mall this weekend.

Added to my natural inclination to visit with friends and actually enjoy my Anglophile evening, is my revulsion at a local news story. A little past midnight on December 20th, a young couple leaving Millers was beaten severely right outside the Wells Fargo bank, a few steps away from the Paramount. This incident received national coverage when the victims discovered, nine days later, that the ball had been dropped by the City of Charlottesville PD. The woman took cell phone pictures of the beating and posted them to her Facebook page, initiating an investigation that has so far come up short on suspects.

The rotten part of the story is that the three attackers seemed to take great pleasure in kicking and beating the young man unconscious, and punching the woman in the head. They laughed, they joked and hugged each other. They didn’t take her purse or their money, even when it was thrown at them. The three attackers were Black and the two victims were White; which led some to call this another example of the “knockout game.”

“They didn’t want to rob us. They wanted to beat us. It was like it was enjoyable to them to beat us,” she said. “There was camaraderie to it.” http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/charlottesville-police-chief-orders-internal-review-in-mall-attack-case/article_87e5fdfa-71cf-11e3-a232-0019bb30f31a.html

This knockout game is just another example of a hate crime imho. Maybe it started when Brad Pitt made that fight club movie, or maybe it started as a gang initiation; pick an innocent victim and sucker punch them into oblivion. It’s caught on like wildfire around the country and states are trying to catch up – http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/30/state-introduce-knockout-game-bills/4249987/

It would be a shame if this news coverage served to deter people from enjoying a night out on the Mall. But calls are coming in for more widespread surveillance and a beefier police presence on the Mall. Our former Mayor Dave Norris had this to say:

…One other predictable outcome: expect another big push for a public camera surveillance system downtown. The damage done by those three jerks to our sense of community, to our sense of safety and to our civil liberties is likely to far exceed the physical damage done to their two victims. I hope none of this comes to pass and that we in Charlottesville avoid the temptation to escalate and overreact. Given human nature, I am not optimistic. I sincerely hope we find these criminals and put them away. I hope their victims’ wounds heal quickly. I hope ours do as well.

I’m not against more cameras, let’s just put them everywhere like London has done. And btw, let’s also ban guns like the Brits, and legalize marijuana like Colorado. But while we’re busy day dreaming, I wonder how our latest single parents will be coping this season?downton-abbey-season-52

 

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“That’s the way you do it.” OK enough Dire Straits,

I mentioned awhile back how I’ve been learning about iPhoto at this new place in town, and what I forgot to say is that I went ahead and splurged on Apple TV. Why? Well, our TV is old enough not to have the ability to connect with the internet for live streaming, and we’re old enough not to have any game cartridges lying around like Nintendo to accomplish the same thing. In other words, in order to get Netflix, we had to buy Apple.

Bob looked at me suspiciously and asked if I was ready to pledge not to abuse this privilege, this ability to watch new movies and old TV series along with new content in the blink of an eye. He was nervous. And I get it, because I would always stay in my office painstakingly watching Downton Abbey for free (with a few commercial interruptions) on my computer whenever I missed a Sunday night episode.

And I missed the last episode of the last season, the one with the car crash! Why buy the whole boxed set of old tech DVDs when I could just pull it up on my TV with ease? I remember watching the second series with the Bride while she was nursing her new baby in Nashville on Netflix. Three generations bonding over Edwardian intrigue. So I started the search on my new Apple TV…

“Does anyone know when @Suburgatory season 2 comes out on DVD? I can’t find any news about it and it’s not even avail on Amazon Instant. wtf”

This just appeared on my Twitter feed from a young, bright, feminist writer. Which makes me feel a little better about being duped. It seems that Downton Abbey is nowhere to be found on Netflix. And so I did what any red-blooded American girl would do, I googled “Why is Downton…” and immediately “..not on Netflix anymore” popped up! AHA!!

The producers of the the Abbey, the reason I bought the Apple, have signed an exclusive contract this past summer with Amazon Prime!

Amazon just signed a deal for exclusive streaming rights to the PBS hit series“Downton Abbey” for the third, fourth and fifth seasons of the show (if they’re produced). In a press release, Amazon announced that “later this year, no digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any seasons of ‘Downton Abbey.'” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/downton-abbey-amazon_n_2600007.html

If you’re still with me, this means I must download Amazon Prime for $79 per year in order to watch my beloved Downton Abbey. OR, I could buy each episode I missed for about $3 on iTunes. Which makes me feel like Maggie Smith walking into a room with those new-fangled electric lights, shielding her eyes and scowling. The unmitigated nerve!

Amazon scares me a little, It’s like their mission is world domination right? Don’t tell Bob that while he worked the last few night shifts, I binge watched “Orange is the New Black.”

Take that Amazon, she said, holding a screwdriver. This is how Ms Bean feels when forced to get into a car, my sentiments exactly girl.  IMG_0387

Oh and thank you Virginia for voting for a reasonable and rational ticket yesterday, you really delivered.

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Busy, busy weekend; but the best so far this year! True to my resolutions, I started off with some slow flow Vinyasa yoga at Studio 206, followed up by a dose of slow knitting at the Needle Lady. Even managed to have some famous Peanut Tofu soup at Rev Soup for lunch. But wait, the best is yet to come…last night I attended the Paramount Theatre’s simulcast showing of the first episode of the 3rd season of, tada, Downton Abbey!

You probably already know I’m addicted. And I’ve never really been addicted to a television show before, well maybe a fling with Grey’s Anatomy? But this is serious: I’ve watched episodes I missed online; sat through the 1st season again (on Netflix) when the Love Bug was born just to ensnare my daughter in its spell; I bought the 2nd season on disc to watch over Christmas with the Bride, fueling her addiction and mine; and I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about the PBS Masterpiece Classic http://www.npr.org/2013/01/03/167528679/downton-abbey-cast-its-more-fun-downstairs.

But last night was a girl’s night out, and some of us dressed to the nines for the occasion! I had a long velvet skirt in my closet, and an old rust colored silk jacket that I topped with a tulle millenary confection!photo copy Felt so very Lady Grantham. Kay Parker is one of my first friends in VA, and she drove our little group of 4 to the Downtown Mall where we met up with my friend Karen and her daughter-in-law Kath. Grown women totally excited to see what will become of Bates and the wedding of Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. I won’t give anything away, except to say that I adore the Irish chauffeur Tom who stole the youngest Lady Sybil away and we all hissed at the evil valet Thomas. And of course Maggie Smith is sublime!
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/

Why do we Yankees love it so? Because it has everything, Shakespearian drama mixed at just the right spot in history. We all secretly love the royals and their quirky landed gentry precisely because we waged a war to separate from them. A Turkish diplomat dies and a scandal is averted, but just barely. A generation returns from WWI and suddenly a life of service doesn’t seem all that great. Cars are replacing horses. Fortunes are lost and others are won. The same themes of life and love, and particularly last night, loyalty, ring true today. Sometimes we all need to be reminded whose side we are on. A good story will resonate with us forever, so thank you Julian Fellowes. Thank you for imagining these characters and putting pen to paper.

Here are the 3 “K”s – Kay, Karen and Kath http://www.katheats.com!
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